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About Not Owning Sh*t (teddy.fr)
66 points by hunvreus on Feb 11, 2013 | hide | past | favorite | 108 comments

I applaud his lifestyle, but the post reminded me of an insightful joke.

Q: How do you know when someone doesn't own a TV?

A: They tell you.

Again, I like his decisions. I hope I don't sound like other posters putting him down or defensive things like he must be rich to live poor, which miss the point. He just seems to be bragging about it. Why not just not have a lot of stuff and leave it at that? If you want to inspire others, a post of a few sentences would probably suffice:

"I avoid having things I find useless and I'm aggressive about considering things useless. Some people might think I'm cheap, but I'm not. I do this on principle. When you cut out crap, you find yourself."

Did I miss anything important? Whatever those four sentences left out in content I feel they made up in brevity and punch.

Now contrast that with how often TV-less people hear about what everyone else is watching. A "fish doesn't notice it's in water" scenario.

Yes. My family has one television and we maybe watch one or two hours of television a week using rabbit ears. It's not even about what shows they are watching, it's "have you seen that commercial for X where Y?" No, I haven't.

So true. I've "missed out" on so many products, services, movies, games, and the like that I will never notice passed me by. I'll just have to find solace in my fuller wallet. :)

And also applicable to this blog post:

Q: How do you know when someone has something from Apple?

A: They tell you.

I tend to refrain from telling people how much TV I don't watch until they ask about a show or commercial they have seen or are following and wonder if I follow.

Please don't downvote me but what's that saying again?...

"Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people."

I would place discussing TV shows / commercials, unless they spark discussion about ideas (like "that's an awesome marketing strategy/use of psychology" or "do you think the world could really be headed towards that scenario?"), somewhere between average and small minds.

There's no space in your world for small talk and chatter then?

You're missing out.

Not that you're missing out by not watching tv, that's pretty irrelevant, but your attitude there is pretty judgemental.

> I tend to refrain from telling people how much TV I don't watch until they ask about a show or commercial they have seen or are following and wonder if I follow

Same here. It's not until the conversation would falter that I offer up that I don't own a TV. The moment is pretty clear: when people are relishing their recounting of a bit and start looking frustrated when I have no nonverbal feedback to help fuel the exchange.

I agree with the idea around removing clutter, and only buying what you need - but I think that extreme minimalism would only work if you lived on your own and were in full control of your environment.

Being married and having a couple of kids, you have to accept your life is not just yours, it is shared with others who have needs AND wants. They like to tip a pile of toys out and choose the one they want to play with that day - I cant just get them ONE high quality toy. My wife could surely survive with just one high quality lipstick or perfume, but to deprive her of variety in things like that would be mean.

I suppose what I am saying is, when you live in a shared space, you concede optimal living and enjoy more variety.

To say nothing of the goals and activities that come with 'grown-up' life and having a family, that don't map well to "everything fits in one suitcase."

Does family bonding really happen when everyone is staring at their own tablet? Cooking and baking are universally recognized for their family benefits going back to before written history. Parties don't happen without at least furniture, glassware and music. Play dates and sleep-overs? I guess if every kid coming over knows to bring their own stuff... What about gear for hobbies? An easel? A dremel? A drill press? Or what about vacation concerns like a fishing-pole or snowboard? Pets? Running shoes? A tea kettle?

Minimizing clutter is a great thing. But absolute minimalism is really only achievable by the young, healthy and single contingent that have seemingly no ambitions or interests beyond heads-down work and/or meditation.

As I said in another comment, I am aware that having a wife and kids changes the game. I don't know yet how I will deal with it, but I hope I'll manage to keep things lean enough.

I posted something similar a few weeks ago when there was a link to a blog post talking about how getting rid of your smartphone will free you from the shackles. Again, I never understand the extremes. I own a fair amount of stuff. I use a fair amount of stuff. Must I either own nothing or own a ton of "shit"? I'm 31, married, and am planning on children in the very near future. Packing up a suitcase and fleeing town isn't something I aspire to.

I have a working room in my house where I have my desk, a computer, two guitars, and a keyboard. All "shit", but all shit I need to write and record music, which I find highly fulfilling. I also have some bookcases with books I've either read and want to keep or use fairly regularly for reference. They're not fitting in my suitcase but I'm better off with them than without them. I'm not missing out on life because I own things that I like.

I have a garage full of tools that I use to work on the house, as well as the cars that get my wife and I to work. Again, it's "shit". It "prevents" me from packing a suitcase and leaving town, but again, I enjoy the tinkering. I also have a little corner in my garage where I keep my homebrewing equipment and kegerator. While these things may shackle my existence in the world, guess what? I enjoy homebrewing.

The rest of my house is filled with functional devices as well. It's more comfortable sitting on a couch than it is the floor, so we have a couch. I, too, eat paleo and find that I need a few things in the kitchen to help accomodate that diet.

Must every hobby of ours exist within a laptop in order to achieve this weird bohemian self-actualization? If money is not an issue, is it terrible to own a few items you can't pack away in a moments notice? If I seriously wanted to skip town and go live in a foreign country for a year, it wouldn't exactly be hard to go rent a storage unit for less than $100 a month to house some of the stuff I can't take with me but wish to keep.

Your desk, computer, guitars, etc, are not "shit" but "stuff", to use the the terms as definined in the blog.

Stuff is fine. Shit needs to be got rid of.

Some of us can fit our stuff into a suitcase. Others need a 4 bedroom house to store our stuff. In both scenarious, there should be no "shit". Or so says the blogger.

> The problem is how you define “need”

I concede that it's subjective; my need is consciously minimalistic, and I didn't mean to bring a "catch all" judgement on everybody that owns things. Especially people with families. I do believe though that there's a strong tendency to own way more than really needed.

That's exactly what I thought- I don't own much, but if you're a musician you have a guitar, an amp, some pedals, some cables... and I read, so I have some books... and I like music, so some records... could call it 'shit', but it's hardly the end of the world.

I find the non-materialistic ideal very appealing. I wish I owned less stuff and spent less time thinking about material possessions.

But every time I read about this sort of thing on-line, I find out that's not what the writer really means:

I just very sincerely don’t give a fuck.

It seems to me that those who really don't care don't bother putting their non-existent thoughts about the things they don't care about into words and then posting them to an international information network. Announcing loudly that one "doesn't care about X" is the way an adolescent shields him or herself from his own overwhelming feelings about X.

I own little, but I try and make sure that this little is reliable and safe. I buy what I want and need, of the best quality I can afford.

And it seems to me that if you truly didn't care about material possessions, you wouldn't waste the time and effort evaluating the quality, reliability, and safety of them before you acquire them, either. On a long enough time-line, everything is ephemeral. How much thought do you put into buying a paper cup?

It's easy for a geek, these days, to imagine that he's living a non-materialistic life, because his television, newspaper, telephone, phonebook, encyclopedia, almanac, dictionary, bookshelf full of books, music system, airline schedules, camera, day planner, calorie counter, robot personal trainer, star charts, robot translator, etc. all fit in one or two pockets.

The fact that those things are all software now doesn't mean you don't own them, or that they're not consuming a share of your awareness. From a certain point of view, the fact that you take this carefully curated collection of stuff with you everywhere you go may make you super-materialistic in a way that wasn't even possible just a few years ago.

Well, while he is not owning shit, as he says, he probably owns enough in terms of financial backing that he could afford shit if he felt the urge of doing so.

What a slap in the face of all hardworking people out there that don't own shit and have no choice in that.

And no, you are not painfully aware of that. You are aware of it, but where is the pain? Just cry me a river...

That seems extreme.

I certainly cut down to two suitcases before emigrating a few years ago, and found it very liberating. In doing so I freed myself from just keeping stuff 'just in case' as I did before. I now live a much more minimal life, and feel much less surrounded by clutter.

But as a permanent way of life? Nah, no thanks. I like my bed. I like my sofa. I like my tv. I like my microserver.

same here, when my wife and I emigrated, I had to leave some stuff behind. it was all boxed up waiting for us back home. the thing is, returning to it after a few months or so, all the stuff I couldn't leave behind turned into stuff I don't want to take with me anymore :) living a minimal life is appealing, but taking this to the extreme doesn't work for me. I was thinking about a 6 months rule :) Put your stuff in boxes (like you'd do when moving away) and just take out the stuff you need each day. You'll see after 6 months what you really need vs what you think you need - following through and throwing that out (or giving it away like we did), well that takes courage :)

Weird. I read the post and asked myself "where's the news?" I thought the majority of HN readers lived like this. I do, but without the custom tailoring or whatever he was talking about. I can't afford that right now.

Owning lots of stuff is a burden. Really is.

Well, there are varying degrees of 'not owning shit' - I don't own a great deal of stuff, but I own more than I have done in the past, and more than this guy who says he can fit all his possessions in a suitcase. I don't think I'd qualify by his standards - and maybe not by yours.

For example, I have enough clean clothes to go two weeks without doing laundry; four pairs of shoes (trainers, formal shoes, safety boots, dancing shoes); six sets of plates and glasses (more than I've ever needed to use at once); cooking stuff like pots, pans, spoons, whisk, scales etc; a motorcycle; a set of motorcycle maintenance tools; three different coats (regular coat, motorcycle jacket for me, motorcycle jacket for passenger); kit for several different sports; desktop computer, personal laptop and work laptop; soldering iron; digital storage oscilloscope. All stuff I need to get stuff done, but certainly more than I could fit in a suitcase.

Can I ask how old you are?

I don't want to be surrounded by clutter, but 'having a nice household environment', which involves the ownership of a fair amount of stuff, is high up on my list of things that make my life comfortable.


Fair enough, you have a few years on me, and that was not what I was expecting!

I don't know anybody beyond their 20s that lives with quite such an extreme ethos about this whole thing. And most of my friends are hackers in one way or another.

That said they're also mostly British and not part of startup culture.

Its interesting you keyed it to startup culture, there's probably a correlation there in having a producer mindset rather then being a consumer. I'm 35 and live to build, all my belongings fit in a suitcase and can skip to new countries or opportunities with a few days notice. Minimal is a fantastic lifestyle if you have the means and skill to exploit it. The idea of owning a house and having to fill it with shit just stresses me out.

> The idea of owning a house and having to fill it with shit just stresses me out.

Friend of mine was twenty-three when his parents insisted he buy a home in Sunnyvale since 'he could afford to'. We got to the point of describing the place as an 'albatross' repeatedly, since it cost him many interesting opportunities had he not been nailed into place. He's now very happily in Japan and free of the burden of home ownership.

I'm in my thirties and I've lived in quite a few places. Yet to live somewhere and say 'Yep, this is it. Nothing else to see, this is the best culture has to offer.' and then stay there. Minimalism simply works best to achieve mobility and it's not like you cannot find partners whom also feel the same way.

I find a lot of the hostility and stereotyping over this lifestyle I see here fascinating. Buyers remorse most likely.

I think it's a lot presumptious to say that people who do keep posessions are not part of producer culture, and that's not what I meant.

I meant the startup world as a fashion or a fad which seems to attract people who are into all sorts of funny ideas. I don't associate startups with productivity, certainly not often useful productivity most of the time.

Steve Job's, at age of 27 did not have much more stuff than this guy, and he was worthed already 100's of millions of dollars at that time.

    I was worth about over a million dollars when I was twenty-three
    and over ten million dollars when I was twenty-four,
    and over a hundred million dollars when I was twenty-five and 
    it wasn’t that important because I never did it for the money.

    This was a very typical time. I was single.
    All you needed was a cup of tea, a light, and your stereo,
    you know, and that’s what I had.

See the amazing photo:


Didn't Steve Jobs own that house?

He also drove a Porsche. If that's a real Tiffany lamp in the photo, it would have cost at least $8000.

He also had millions of dollars so if his toilet quit working he could just pay somebody to come fix it.

> I am painfully aware I am a highly privileged educated white male and most of the world population don’t have the luxury of living like I do.

I have a somewhat similar lifestyle despite being unprivileged (I am black and from one of the poorest countries in the World). I think it's just a way of life that one builds over time. I know plenty of people here who worry too much about things like latest clothes, furnitures, owning a house and other commodities which clutter their life and make them spend more money than they can possibly make. I have always tried to live only on the minimum, I started my programming carrier without even owning a computer and now I make a pretty decent living (even by western standards). I would have never done it if I accumulated sh*t. I think things would be so much better around the World (in the developing as well as the developed World) if people just removed the clutter.

Don't you people have any hobbies?

For me it is cycling. My bike is my most important possession along with the various tools, wheels, spare bikes, etc. I mean, I get the whole zen thing but life is too short to not have anything. If you do anything outdoors you need equipment (you can rent some equipment but that gets old fast).

One thing I've noticed about the latest tech bubble is that nobody has any hobbies, besides going out to restaurants and maybe (no offense) bicycles.

In the past bubble it seemed like 65% of the programmers were artists or musicians and had really involved hobbies like motorcycle racing, flying helicopters, target shooting, archery, paragliding, building their own kiteboard equipment or violin or solar car, etc.

Yeah, that's a great example of how people think not having stuff is freeing, but it's actually incredibly limiting. Having no stuff is choosing to not do anything when you are at home.

True. I work out and run almost every day, outside. I go to parks or find children playgrounds for pull ups and co.

It is amazing, how you can get attached to your bike. Mine was stolen a couple of years a go and I still miss it.

I had a bike stripped of parts from just outside our flat years ago - I almost cried when I saw that all that was left was the very sad looking frame chained to the wall. :-(

Just wait till you get a wife ;-)

I don't understand why people think his lifestyle is generally incompatible with having a girlfriend. Of course it is incompatible with most people in the western world, but it seems some people think it is more so with women. Someone care to elaborate?

Society expect women to own more: beauty products, clothes, shoes... There is simply a lot more pressure on women to invest and diversify their appearance.

But there are women who live with far less too, even if more than what I depicted in this post.

and kids!

And decide to settle and buy a house...

Is a house actually necessary? I've been content with living in a rented flat so far. Or is that mainly an American thing where outside of larger cities space is abundant?

Depends on your situation and how long you plan on living in one place. In the US there are tax advantages to home ownership, my mortgage + property taxes are currently less than what I would pay for rent for a comparable house. Situations differ by individual and region. Some places like San Francisco are seeing rents go through the roof, while some places like Berlin are still very reasonable.

Simplistically? Rent goes into someone else's major savings account (house), mortgage payments go into your own.

So what about all that other stuff - a home? A chair, a table, a bed? Kitchen stuff? Stuff to wash the clothes? Ho about books and periodicals and media (movies, tv, music?)

Maybe it's all rented. Or maybe he goes to a laundrette.

These "look how minimally I live" posts are all frustrating because they all ignore the huge amounts of support the poster gets from support workers. I'd have a lot more respect for someone who claimed to live minimally if they owned 5 acres and a mule and grew their own food. I still wouldn't care much, but at least the posts wouldn't be annoying.

EDIT: And I agree with the general principle of "buy less".

My best friend is an international student from China. His philosophy is he'll get rid of anything that he can't pack up in 1/2 an hour. I complain that his walls are bare, but he says the excitement and adventure is to be had outside of the room. It's incentive to get into those woods or onto that mountain.

I used to be able to live out of a suitcase, then it built up and up so I tried to declutter again a few times. I do really well, then get locked into a collectors mentality and start buying things in series (comics, books, TV series). I've thankfully managed to off a lot of that into digital content now, so I can start paring things back down. I'd love to live with an iPad, an iPhone, a laptop and some external drives.

However, my girlfriend is the opposite, and that works for her. Different strokes for different folks.

I'm perpetually amused by all the people acutely aware of their privilege, and how they rarely mention any of the things they're doing to try to right the injustice.

It strikes me as the same making racist remarks and then insisting you have black friends, (the corollary being that my unchecked privilege probably makes me an unapologetic racist in this analogy but at least that's honest, I guess)

It isn't "injustice" that he's born into privilege. That affluence is the result of sacrifice and decisions made by his family and his larger community/nation.

The injustice is that other families and nations are various degrees of corrupt and ignorant. That's not necessarily his burden. In fact, the main reason that life is getting better around the globe is because advanced, "priviledged" societies invented agriculture, science, computers, refrigeration, vaccines, and so on.

I'm not sure if you were meant to be agreeing with me or not, or if I'm just misinterpreting your tone.

I agree with you. While I don't think it's necessarily a bad thing to have some perspective and context for the way you experience the world, this privilege apologism that's taken hold is absurd in my view.

I'm perpetually amused by all the people acutely aware of their privilege, and how they rarely mention any of the things they're doing to try to right the injustice.

Injustice? there's nothing wrong with doing well and reaping the rewards thereof, there's nothing wrong with "knowing the right people", there's nothing wrong with honest success. There's no "injustice" to "right" in this case. In many/most cases, their success is indeed a consequence of making other people's lives better - certainly nothing to apologize for, nor condemn.

You should not assume either that lack of mention means lack of action.

I think it's safe to assume the author does not have a partner or own property.

Yeah, this will quickly end when he finds a girlfriend. Enjoy it while it lasts my friend, because unless you want to live with cats and dog your entire life, you're going to have to start consuming "shit" at some point in your life.

Not sure I actually "have to", it's all a matter of who that person is and how you define "needs" together.

What resonates with me extremely well is the way he prioritizes work and eating quality. The older I get the more I realize the importance of these things. Having down time, either through technical or health difficulties, is just not worth it.

I also get his never-eat-at-home idea. It just takes time and effort to buy and cook stuff which is better spent on things more enjoyable. Fortunately the health food/organic trend made it a lot easier finding healthy food alternatives.

"It just takes time and effort to buy and cook stuff which is better spent on things more enjoyable."

Have you really never taken joy in preparing food for friends and family?

Cooking is a leisure activity for me, so I don't consider it a waste of time either.

I always found it a dreadful experience. It takes a lot of effort, but all the time and thought-investment is gone within half an hour and you even have to clean up afterwards. I prefer much more spending the time having stimulating talks or reading a book while letting the cooking be done by others who find it more enjoyable.

If you're doing it right you get to be creative, make something people love and somebody else gets clear-up duty :)

I find your notion about eating at home a bit saddening. Making absolutely incredible food at home is simple and can be enormously enjoyable. The whole process of eating out is far more time consuming and limiting.

I recommend Gordon Ramsay's Ultimate Cookery Course. Actually not kidding. It is one of the most recent eye-opening eating-incredible-food-easily-at-home shows.

This post is the third installment of a special Hn series on optimizing your material possessions.

Optimize for Quality: http://dcurt.is/the-best

Optimize for Experience: http://www.thoughtcrime.org/blog/the-worst/

Optimize for Utility: http://teddy.fr/2013/02/10/about-not-owning-shit/

What does he cook with?

All I can figure is that he doesn't cook and just eats out all the time. He does say something about not worrying about the cost of food.

That must be a nice life. Eating out is quite an expensive way to live.

depends on where you live. I think you could do it relatively easily in Japan for example. 1k yen per meal (which can get you really good meals) would make you pay around 90k yen per month (around 900 dollars). That sounds expensive, but if you think about the amount of time you save, it might be worth it for some people.

In Japan, I think that's a result of people not having proper kitchens in their very small apartments.

I hope he enjoys his gut and general ill-health after a year of eating out.

Why? Sushi is healthy. Salads are healthy. Lots of healthy stuff to eat out.

He's probably not eating fast food all the time, I lived on eating out for about 8-10 months 5 times a week and didn't put any weight on.

Problem is not owning stuff per se but getting attached to it

Yeah, or getting attached to no-stuff, like people who hold on tenaciously to their precious minimalism -- lack of stuff becomes their most prized possession.

Having a lot of stuff can slow you down. Here is the set we moved to Berlin with (two people, both programmers):


Of course, since then stuff has accumulated a bit, especially when we had to buy the furniture from the previous tenant when renting a flat. But those we can again sell onwards when and if we decide to move out...

And it should be noted, it was nice to be able to do a move with just checked in luggage on a regular flight. No container ships or moving trucks involved:


I do have similar goal after I traveled around Europe with only clothes and laptop. I traveled with Interail for 15 days straight. It was pretty life changing. Before I wanted too much.

I want to travel all around the world. I have goal to work on the go, through internet and own things only that fit into hand luggage. Probably laptop, some clothes, sketchbook.

Although, I am going to miss my books, I think I have to store them at my parents house probably.

What I have found is that people who have traveled without knowing or caring where they end up and without too much things, only they understand why it is so freeing.

For normal 8 to 5 person, it is usually very hard to get him to travel(not meaning vacation) and even harder to get him leave all the "shit" at home.

bad english is bad.

Every time I see people like this I am reminded of the Einstein quote, "everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler." There is much to be said for living a simple and even frugal life, but this is not a simple life, it's a selfish personal indulgence. It is a life that is only possible if you have money and live in places that have the wasteful infrastructure that is needed to support a consumer culture and economy. He's opted out of the consumer-ownership food-chain and lives in the rental-consumer food chain. If you really want to live with no possessions, move to Laos or Cambodia and become a Buddhist monk, they don't even need a suitcase to hold all of their possessions.

Not owning stuff doesn't necessarily mean consuming less, quite the opposite. If you don't have the tools to fix things that break then you have to hire other people to, have them travel out to your home etc. Others have mentioned how he must eat out a lot, which again consumes a lot of resources at least as commonly implemented (canteen-style food might actually be more efficient than cooking for yourself, but I've never known anyone to happily live on such for long).

If you enjoy this kind of lifestyle and can afford it then great, go for it. But don't pretend it's a more efficient or better way to live.

>a few devices to get my work done >I don’t fear losing stuff, I don’t even think about it.

This is the part that seems to be hard for people that try to do this. Yes, in our modern world, it is amazing what you can do with a smart phone and a laptop and minimize stuff. But it also makes us very reliant on those same devices. If you have no stuff, and suddenly can't find your phone, the utopian "I don't fear losing things" goes right out the window.

(Although I will say iCloud backups certainly help with this on the phone side. I don't really fear losing anything if I lose my phone, which is nice.)

I moved countries 9 months ago, I had only £600 in my pocket, nowhere to stay, no job and no real qualifications. When I moved, I couldn't afford an expensive flight so I had to cut down to 1 suitcase and 1 backpack and whatever else I could stuff in my pocket.

I was terrified, I had a very slim chance of actual survival (enough people die of being homeless, not being able to afford food, etc, to make it a real cause for concern, I've seen it myself) and I was young, I had only just turned 19.

My family lived in Spain and I had no choice but to move there when I was 16, but I had taught myself programming and I had a dream, one which I couldn't see being achieved in Spain, so I moved back to the UK.

When my plane touched ground, I bought a cheap SIM card and put it in to my Nokia 3310 (Retro chic, right?) and sent a text to my girlfriend to let her know I had landed and everything was okay, she lived in the UK (still with her parents) but I couldn't afford to send a text to my family, it would be weeks before my mum knew I was safe.

I took a train journey from Manchester airport to Blackburn, it was where I was born and where my girlfriend lived, it would be a good idea to start there. As I sat on the train I contemplated the finality of my decision to move - there was no going back, it was "make it" or perish.

I began searching for a place to stay for a few weeks, I compiled a list of old friends who had their own place and started ringing through, all but one of them said no, the other only said "Let me ask my girlfriend." She said no.

The first few days were some of the darkest of my life, I was sheltering myself underneath a large space heater for the town centre during the night, it provided enough warmth that I didn't get ill, but the concrete below me made it difficult to sleep, near impossible, there were times when my moods hit rock bottom and I contemplated suicide or theft, but i still didn't rent a hotel room or some other fantasy, I was saving my money, that had to go far.

3 days later, I got a call, it was my friend, letting me know he had convinced his girlfriend to let me stay for a month and a half, I would be lying now if I said that he saved my life by doing this.

I started to stay with him, there was no internet at first and the accommodation was as simple as you can imagine (I had one sofa bed and 2 plug sockets, the light bulb in the ceiling was broken, so I only had the light of my old laptop once it started to go dark.)

Sometimes, I see questions on HN, asking how someone could possibly survive with only $50,000 a year, I was surviving on about £0.25p per day, eating only tinned beans and packets of noodles, drinking water, my diet was and still is atrocious.

After a couple of months, I managed to find a job with a small web development company as an apprentice, the wages was poor but it was enough, around £300 per month, of which £68 was spent on transport (it was 15 miles from my home, some days, I couldn't afford the Bus and I would walk, i've actually become very accustomed to walking long distances, some days I can cover 1 or 1 + 1/2 marathons (23 / 35 miles) if I want to, and the pain in my feet only lasts a couple of days.)

I kept this job for 7 months, during which time I spent a further 2 weeks homeless, 2 months in a shelter, 2 months with family and 2 months again at the end with my friend, i loved the job and my boss, he was a lifeline of a sorts for me and taught me a lot.

Forward to November.

I was comfortable, in a way, I still ate cheap food and could barely afford travel, but I was able to give my friend money for the rent and to treat my girlfriend occasionally, but it has been an age since I've actually spent money on my self except for hair cuts (something I tend to wait a long period in between) and new shoes (lots of walking wears them out quickly, I average around 200 miles / pair though, so the cost comes to about £0.03 per mile.)

I was looking for a new job, I felt as though I needed more money, my new found "luxury" wasn't enough and I happened upon a company 30 miles away who wanted a junior developer, £15k per year!

I interviewed and got offered the job 30 minutes later over the phone, but it meant quitting my first job, I don't lie when I say it was one of the hardest things I've ever had to do, emotionally, to tell him that his only employee was leaving, but it was a necessary decision, for my own future.

Christmas came fast, but between jobs (I wasn't being hired until January) I had no money, it was a budget, I only just managed to afford a present for my girlfriend (An antique cup and saucer to replace one she smashed accidentally when making a cup of Tea (her favourite drink)) and there wasn't always money for electricity or gas, so some nights I had to lie under my blanket from 6pm just to stay warm.

Now I have my own home, 2 months later, I couldn't afford the full deposit and had to explain that I "didn't have enough money" to my new landlord, something of a kick to my pride, but he let me have it for cheaper.

Currently I have £5.62 to my name, to last me until March, but I'm happier than I've ever been, I have everything I've ever wanted (No TV, home internet or phone, but a living girlfriend and a roof over my head) and from here, I can only go up.

Poverty is not a choice we make, not directly anyway, when I moved I knew it would be hard, but not this hard. I don't know how I will get to work when my bus pass runs out next Monday, I will probably walk.

I don't know why I told my story here (heavily shortened) but all I know is this: if there is anyone else out there in the positions I've been in this past year, take heart, you are going to survive.

I'm currently hard at work with this self, but having a girlfriend complicates things.

Every day before leaving home, I visit my bookshelf, select one of my 1-200+ books that I never read anyway and throw it away.

I smile, thinking to myself that I just made moving out of the apartment a little .. lighter.

In under one year, I won't have any books left and I'll move on to some other totally uneccessary item - like a decorative item or pair of old shoes.

Not wanting to sound like a hippie, I still think the sheer amount of "stuff" we have in our lives is keeping us pinned down.

You just throw them in the trash? Why not donate them to a library or used book store?

Throwing away books is sad... Don't you have any public bookshelves (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_bookcase) nearby?

You throw the books away? :o

I own a lot of stuff (TV, couch, wardrobe, carpets, lamps etc), but most of which I don't care about or am OK to lose. If I move out, or move countries I can sell/give away all this stuff and just re-buy it if I need to in the other location. I don't think owning a lot of stuff necessarily correlates to caring about a lot of stuff (or buying stuff to show off). I buy stuff to make my life easy or more comfortable, not necessarily to raise my status among others.

I've found myself trying to have less and less stuff. Before the big problem was that I love reading, a lot. The kindle solves that for most things, but there are still people who think that pdf is a good e-book solution , so for those I need to get dead-tree versions. Plus for comics/manga, it's the same problem.

That and I have a lot of clothes. I'm trying to make my life a bit more minimal though, and I try to avoid buying things that would require keeping now.

I just think of stuff as investment. The tablet you bought and never use is just an investment thats not paying out. Selling it second-hand, or keeping it in hope of discovering a good game on it later are both valid choices. Contrary to the article, I think rich people should buy wacky stuff and try to find good uses for it, and then blog about it.


I think its important to find one'w own minimal footprint. Obviously it is different for each individual. Knowing it will ease the context switches (read: Location/Country change, status change, leaving the comfort zone etc...). Though, I doubt staying with the minimal footprint for a "really" long time is a viable option.

With all due respect, I think getting a proper bed could be a good idea for your back.

Many of these "I don't need anything" posts should be subtitled, "If I want to use something, I just mooch it off friends", "I let other people maintain and store the stuff I use" or "I don't have any hobbies".

"'I let other people maintain and store the stuff I use'"

Sounds like a business model. I'd pay for it.

The link to devo.ps on your sidebar is broken (missing the 'p' in 'http')

Thanks for that. Fixed.

If the apartment really looks like the photo, the poster does not and will never have a girlfriend. Bed frame and at least a love seat are a must for dating, even in San Francisco.

That's perfectly fine if you are interested only in software, but if you wan't to play with robots or some hardware, there's sh*t to bought and kept and not easily moved.

i really like the idea of not buying all shit which is available, and keep his bugs together.

but at least i want some confizone at home, a good bed and stuff like that. just enough to relax and thats it.

i went from to have to much money to have like nothing, and one is for sure to have a little bit more money then u need, make things easier...what does not mean that u have to buy them.

I'd like to cut down on all of the junk I hold on to. What are some helpful tips to go from hoarder to not owning shit?

Haven't used something in a year? Throw it out. Not sure if you'll regret throwing away a memento? Take a picture of it, then throw it out.

Agreed. This practice helped reduce my sh*t collection by quite a bit.

Books - Get a barcode scanning app (GoodReads works well) and then you can give away your books, buying them electronically if you ever want to buy them again (you probably won't). Or send your books to http://1dollarscan.com/ etc. If you're feeling lazy, just take a few photos of your whole shelf.

DVDs/CDs - Barcode-scan your DVDs and CDs so you can give them away too.

Clothes - Put clothes you haven't worn for 6 months in a box. If they're still in the box 6 months later, give them away.

Selling - If you value your time, avoid selling on eBay. It's an awful UX uploading photos etc. Give away small items and don't bother selling anything under $X as it won't be worth your effort. ($X depends on how much you value your time.) Make it collection-only if you live in a big city and make it the same time for all items (e.g. "collection only at Monday 8-9pm").

Prevention is better than cure - Be careful whatever you buy. Be careful whatever crap you collect at events. These are the same items that a few months/years later are going to cause you clutter and force you to constantly be making decisions about whether to keep them.

I usually just tell myself : Do I want to put this in a suitcase when I move? Do I want one more thing in my place? Usually that works, after the horrors I've had involving moving.

There are a lot of boxes of my stuff sitting somewhere that will probably all go to the trash when/if I ever fetch them. Being forced to move around changed my view on a lot of things.

Whenever you think "I shouldn't throw that away, I might need/want it one day", dispose of it instantly - sell it or dump it.

That's some great advice, I'll start doing that!

Donate stuff to Oxfam or libraries.

I've long resisted getting a Kindle, but now I am very happy for every book that is not taking up space.

Some larger things you can probably give away via classifieds or just putting them on the curb with a note.

Also, quit having hobbies

Good point. Perhaps one way to reduce hobby related stuff is to do as much as possible in hacker spaces or similar things, so that you don't have to own equipment yourself.

It's not the things you own, but the things that own you that make life troublesome.

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